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Drivers switch off – when the inspectors are around

SCMP – June 5, 2012

Inspectors targeting drivers idling their vehicle engines have not ticketed any offenders yet, but their presence on the streets has forced many motorists to turn off engines, the Environmental Protection Department said yesterday.

Since the anti-idling law came into force in December, 180 enforcement actions had been undertaken at black spots across the city, said Mok Wai-chuen, assistant director of the department. Those actions included publicising the law, warning drivers and timing idling engines.

Drivers had generally been co-operative with the officers, Mok said.

In 110 cases, the inspectors started timing idling vehicles but the drivers always switched their engines off within the time limit allowed under the law.

Drivers face prosecution if they idle their engines for more than three minutes in any one-hour period. Violators are liable to a fixed-penalty ticket of HK$320.

“We will continue our enforcement and publicity efforts to urge drivers to comply with the idling engine ban,” said Mok, who launched an anti-idling publicity campaign on Tsim Sha Tsui streets yesterday.

Several roving exhibitions promoting the ban will be staged from now until early next month in Causeway Bay, Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui and Tuen Mun.

In the first few months of the ban inspectors were lenient, verbally warning drivers who might not have been familiar with the new law, Mok said. But in recent months they had stepped up enforcement and drivers were no longer warned before the officers started their timing. However, drivers can always see that they are being timed.

Moreover, drivers get an obvious warning when the inspectors check to see if their engine is idling – coming close to listen, or looking at the exhaust pipe.

Mok said inspectors would step up enforcement during the summer months.

He urged drivers to do their bit to improve air quality in the city.

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